Swing door or silver wedding anniversary: strengthen your brand and retain your employees

Do you want to recruit the best and brightest — and retain them, too? Get to work on your Employer Value Proposition.
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Danes are the European champions of switching jobs. Meanwhile, more and more industries are having a hard time recruiting qualified candidates. The marriage-like relationship that former generations had with the workplace has been replaced by new jobs every second or third year. You need focused value propositions if you want to succeed in attracting and retaining the best and brightest talents.

Every year, approximately 800,000 Danes eat their lunch in a new cafeteria. Based on population, Danes change their jobs more often than any other European population group.

The great staff turnover means that the general terms of employment are no longer the long-term relationship we used to see from former generations. The silver wedding anniversary has been replaced by a swing door, and freelance work and gig economies challenge permanent employment. This introduces new demands in the struggle to attract and retain employees, and if you don’t know how to tweak the system — you will lose the race to attract sharpest candidates.

It’s not enough to simply offer high salaries and attractive perks. You need to strengthen your company’s brand as a place of employment. And it takes a dedicated and strategic approach to build and manage your brand for both potential and current employees.

If you only compete on salary, big company cars, and other princely perks, payment becomes the only competitive parameter. The question then becomes: are you ready to lose your best employees?

If not, you need to understand — and use — the emotional tools that make your workplace attractive and will make people interested in working for you even if you can’t offer the most attractive benefits package.

Make your offer clear

Positioning aimed at employees and attractive talents is like all other branding; it’s based on perceived value. The little, intangible elements that help us decide whether we prefer one option or another. No matter whether your employees are primarily unskilled workers or highly educated IT specialists.

If you want to work on attracting and retaining employees, you need to have your Employer Value Propositions — or simply EVPs — under control.
Mette Hejl CEO & Partner

Your company’s EVPs are the messages that will convince potential and current employees about the values of your workplace. From the warehouse to the management floor, EVPs answer the question: “As a candidate, why should I choose your company?” But they also describe what the company expects from the candidate.

Your EVPs should offer something that your competitors don’t. Something that your employees and dream candidates can follow and support — and something that your company can work with in the long run and adjust on an ongoing basis.

Five ways to work with EVPs

When an employee decides to switch jobs, usually it’s due to the belief that the grass is greener somewhere else. Your EVPs must aim to describe exactly how green the grass is at your end — to either attract or retain — and that can be done in five ways:

It’s crucial for current employees that they see potential in their current job and the organization they are part of. Your EVPs should clearly define how your workplace creates the room for individual growth and what this includes – for example through opportunities of increased responsibility, posting in other countries, internal development programs, courses, and skill development, etc. Obviously, this also goes for the talent you’re looking to attract.

Nearly everyone has a boss and that’s why it’s crucial that you describe what style of management your company works with. Will you become part of a social workplace with Friday bars, monthly social events, and annual company parties? How is the overall tone and how do management ensure the personal development of every employee?

A job is typically not chosen based on the daily tasks alone. The decision is most often a sum of many considerations that also include the company’s reputation, its market position, the quality of its products and services — and not least, its role in the local community. If you succeed in presenting your company as an attractive workplace, it’s more likely that you will succeed in retaining your current employees and attracting new ones.

Work-life balance is a significant element in Danish working life and is a hot topic for debate. So, it’s important that you show how your company distinguishes free time from work — if you do, that is. At the same time, you should demonstrate that the job roles are fun, challenging, and stimulating, and explain how the responsibility will grow concurrently with the employee’s skill level.

Salary, bonuses, perks, and vacation time are some of the most tangible — and therefore most important — elements at stake when people switch jobs. So, naturally, you need to describe what you offer and spin it in the best light possible.

Five methods. It sounds simple enough. And then again, unfortunately, many EVPs end up shockingly ineffective. Either because they are not different enough or because they are too far removed from reality. If your EVPs must answer the question, “Why should I work here?” then you obviously need to provide a clear answer. And to find that answer, you should look inwards.

What projects are your team most excited by? Are they unique to your company? Do you offer something special to the group of potential employees that your company needs the most? And at the most basic level: what do your employees appreciate the most about your company? In all likelihood, the answers will provide you with the information you need when working with the five pillars that define your EVPs.

The task is then to distill the answers into intelligent and effective messages.


So, how does this look in practice? A good example is Inspari, one of Denmark’s leading business intelligence and data companies with a workforce of highly sought-after specialists. Full disclosure: Pravda has helped design the concept — so, naturally, I am a little biased.

The cornerstone of the company’s approach to employer branding and EVPs is the concept ‘Heartwork’, which combines the three most important ingredients for success at Inspari: hard work, dedication, and passion in its fullest form.

Inspari has worked hard as hell to execute their concept and to ensure that ‘Heartwork’ permeates their initiatives aimed at employees. From ‘backstage’ Instagram stories with employee relays to internal hackathons, graduate programs, soccer teams, and video testimonials from employees. ‘Heartwork’ becomes much more than a fancy headline; it’s a mindset that sets the overall direction and provides renewed energy.

The concept aside, Inspari obviously still needs to work hard to retain their talented staff. And that requires a lot of work on several fronts, not just employer branding initiatives.

The power of the ‘Heartwork’ concept is that it compresses a collection of well-defined value propositions and offers a clear response to what employees can expect from the workplace. At the same time, they are adequately differentiated from the competition and Inspari owns the position in a credible way.

Your EVPs should offer something that your competitors don’t.
Mette Hejl CEO & Partner

Never begin too late

There is good reason to work with your EVPs if you want to attract talented employees. Recruitment is approximately 10% more expensive if your company suffers from a bad reputation, and a study from Harvard Business Review shows that about half of the respondents will eliminate a company with a bad reputation from their job hunt.

So, even if you find yourself in a privileged position with no shortage of talented candidates, you should be careful not to start working with employer-branding when it’s too late. As you probably know, it’s not easy to turn a supertanker, and that is exactly the scenario you will face if your company’s reputation suffers unexpectedly or your competition simply overtakes your position.

For the uninitiated, EVPs can seem indefinable, but they make up a value proposition in just the same way as the products and services your company offers. You probably adjust these on an ongoing basis, as the market changes and general demand shifts. So, obviously, you need to adjust your approach to attract and retain the smartest people in your industry.

If you ask your employees why they work for you, the answer will likely be a combination, or all, of the following: nice coworkers, fun jobs, and a decent salary. In the end, your EVPs need to embody everything that these three factors represent and present them in an appealing way to the people you want to attract.

If you achieve this, you will have succeeded in activating your EVPs — and in all likelihood, you will have succeeded in switching the swing door for a silver wedding anniversary.